An Accountability Partner

In the course of your writing lives, I’m sure you have had a critique partner or participated in a critique group. But have you ever had an accountability partner?

Before this past August, I hadn’t. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of the concept before. (Okay, so the term, “accountability partner,” I made up. If there is a more official or creative name floating around, do let me know!)

Three months ago, fellow mermaid Kerri and I fell into an accountability relationship, and it has changed the course of my writing life. Here’s how it works:

— At the beginning of each week, Kerri and I each set a goal for the week. The goals do not have to be the same, but it’s always fun when they are. They range from word count goals (such as 1.5K words a day or once, when we were feeling really motivated, 10K words for the week) to revision goals (such as 2 chapters a day or 50 pages for the week) to task-specific goals (such as writing a synopsis or a short story).

— After setting our goals, Kerri and I email each other every day to report our progress (and celebrate and commiserate and give each other pep talks). This step is vitally important. Not only does it keep you on task, but it also motivates your partner. And really, who in your non-writing life will cheer when you say you’ve written 1709 words that day? It’s these small bits of encouragement that keep me going.

— Finally, at the end of the week, after we have met our goals (which we do about half of the time), we reward ourselves lavishly. The rewards have ranged from a pedicure to a margarita to a cupcake to a mojito to popcorn and movies to dinner out to running shoes to tall black boots, depending on the size of the accomplishment. (The last two were Kerri’s and my rewards, respectively, for finishing our novels.)

In the last three months, our productivity has shot through the roof. (Well, maybe I should speak for myself. Perhaps Kerri is always this productive, super-mermaid that she is.) We have both finished our WIPs, revised (or are in the process of revising), and written query letters and synopses. To top it off, Kerri also wrote her charming garden story during this time!

Now that I’ve discovered an accountability partner (thank you, Kerri-mermaid!), I can’t imagine writing another novel without one. What about you? Have you ever had an accountability partner and how did the relationship work? Please share. I’d love to hear about your experiences!

27 thoughts on “An Accountability Partner

  1. Getting out there first today–I think!
    I’ve been doing a 100 word a day session in which a group of us try for motivation each day. (I must admit, quite a few of us in the group have been bogged down lately with many issues, but we try.) I love having the support and giving a shout out to those in return. It’s so motivational. But focusing lately has been the issue (okay–critiquing, judging, finishing a revision for a deadline–all a part of our jobs but so is the writing)!

    I look to those for support. It’s not always an easy thing. You and our mermaid sister Kerri have a great bond! I think that is great! Kudos to you two! 🙂

    Just Keep Swimming . . . Just Keep Swimming!

  2. Thank you, Loni! Your group sounds wonderfully supportive, and yes, life certainly gets in the way, which makes having an accountability partner or group even more important. It was your 1K1H challenges that opened my eyes to the benefits of daily check-ins, so thank you for that. And anytime you want to do a challenge, you know where to find me!

  3. I don’t necessarily have a specific accountability partner, but I do have other writer friends who will send me an email to get me motivated.
    The NaNo is great for that because your word count is plainly visible to all. My friend Vanessa sent me a “Checking on Youuuuuuu!” email the other day. Last year she sent me a picture of myself over a photo of Atlanta burning in Gone with the Wind, with the caption: “Lighting a Fire Under You.” So, I guess Vanessa is a pretty good accountability partner.
    If you haven’t done NaNo, it’s a fun time, and it really does make you work harder. It’s embarrassing when your word count is wayyyy below everyone else’s. That’s always a good motivation to get moving.

  4. Kim, how awesome! What a great friend to have!
    And I agree — NaNo is awesome in the support that writers have for each other, the checking-ins, and the sharing of word counts. It is such a motivational tool for the month of November that why not implement a version of it for the rest of the year?

  5. Yay and weeeeeee! I’m famous today!!!

    I love being an accountability partner. This is a “safe” way to let my inner bossy-pants self out. I think my favorite week was when we wrote the 10K words. That was intense but fun too. My writing has definitely gone above and beyond because of this relationship! In fact, I need to update my partner right now about my latest goal. Off to email P.H…. 😉

    1. You are totally famous!! I loved that week, as well. I think it showed us that we could really be productive if we put our minds to it, you know?

  6. I’m with you Avery!!! Fabulous idea. For the past couple of months I have found that I write in surges–writing like 8-10 hours a day for a couple of weeks, cranking out the words, then not picking it up again for another week and a half. Just for the record, I would NOT recommend this writing style to anyone sane. But I think being accountable to someone else might force me to be more consistent and sit down at my computer everyday. No excuses.

  7. Avery and Dana, if you can’t already tell, I totally recommend an AP! Especially one as glittery and supportive as Kerri-mermaid!

  8. I think I need an AP for shaving my legs! And writing of course but darn, with the cooler weather lately and the long pants, I’m just saying!!!

    Love your post P.H.!

      1. And here I was, feeling sorry for myself b/c my cordless shaver died… you must be feeling really glittery!

  9. I’d love an accountability partner. I’ve been eyeing large wall calendars at Staples to start planning manuscripts and due dates. Hey- we all want to have multiple deadlines at multiple publishing houses someday, we might as well pretend we’re there now and get some practice in.

    Carlene, if you’re really looking, I’d love to be APs with you. Email me cause I also have something else to ask you about.

  10. Thanks for stopping by, Lynne! A wall calendar is a great idea. And good luck finding an AP! You can never go wrong with a mermaid.

  11. Daughter Carol and I were being APs last summer before I hit a rocky point in my writing. I’ve stagnated since, and she forged ahead to nearly complete her 90K manuscript. So proud! Would it help if I had an AP now? Maybe a crit partner would be better.

    1. Depends on if you want feedback or motivation, Susan, although I think both are good things. How wonderful that you and your daughter are both writers!!

      1. Darn it, I say I want both, and then I back up. Maybe I’m just a tease? Oh, ick, a slut mermaid?! Ouch!

  12. Wow! Can’t believe I didn’t get to read this until so late in the day – but boy, do I love this accountability partner idea. Marvelous motivation. Although I must admit, being a mermaid is also a powerful incentive for me. You ladies all work so hard and so consistently – it’s just a pleasure (and an inspiration) to be a part of this fabulous group.

    But yeah, I’ve got to spread the accountability partner concept! I love it.

    Thank you P.H. for a great post!

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